Esav and radical Islam

I mentioned in an earlier post how commentaries in the past have drawn parallels between Esav and Christianity.  In that genera of commentary, Yishmael is used as a representative of Islam.  I think today, there is a far stronger and more relevant parallel between Esav and Islam. The Torah forbids us in parshat Ki Tetze [...]

By | November 27th, 2015|

Esav and Christianity

The Torah has an entire chapter, 43 verses, dedicated to the descendants of Esav and what became of them. We have a specific commandment not to hate Esav's descendants (Devarim 23:8).  Rashi comments on that verse, "even though it would be appropriate for you to hate him, for he came out against you with the [...]

By | November 26th, 2015|

Was Yaakov liberal or conservative?

The rape of Dina is probably the most controversial section in the entire Torah. Yaakov's daughter Dinah was raped and held hostage by Shechem and his clan.  Yaakov's son's take control of the negotiations and the rest is history. Shimon and Levi kill the inhabitants of the town and rescue Dinah. The Torah deliberately makes [...]

By | November 25th, 2015|

Yaakov and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Rashi in this week's parshah (33:4) quotes Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who said, "Halacha (it is a fact) and it is known that Esav hates Yaakov."The war between Esav and Yaakov was seen as some kind of eternal struggle between two ideologies. It seems that Yaakov's strategy in this case was appeasement.  he sent Esav gifts [...]

By | November 24th, 2015|

Naftali Bennett coming to Beth Tfiloh

Naftali Bennett is coming to Beth Tfiloh! Thursday December 3rd at 8pm one of the most important politicians in Israel will be hosted by Mercaz Dahan in our main sanctuary. The event is sponsored by One Israel Fund, and Eli Burman in memory of his father David Burman.Naftali Bennett embodies a rare confluence of so [...]

By | November 24th, 2015|

Yaakov and Golda Meir

I don't know how well Golda Meir knew Rashi's commentary on the Torah, but one of her most famous quotations comes right out of this week's parshah.As Esav approached Yaakov's camp with his 400 men Yaakov was afraid.  The Torah uses two words to describe his fear.  "He was frightened and distressed."  Rashi says, "he [...]

By | November 23rd, 2015|

Lavan and John Kerry

Who is the worst villain in the Torah?  If you had to choose only one Biblical antagonist as the paradigm of the antisemite who wanted to completely destroy the Jews, who would you pick?Pharoah?  Nimrod?  Esav?  Amalek?  Bilaam?  Balak?  Og? All of those at one point tried to destroy us.  But the Haggadah picks someone [...]

By | November 23rd, 2015|

Jonathan Pollard Free

It seems like I have been davening for the release of Jonathan Pollard my entire life. I have memories already from lower school of hearing his name in the news.  Throughout high school Jonathan Pollard was a big issue.  I remember numerous assemblies that focused on the issue of his release.  Whenever the school hosted [...]

By | November 20th, 2015|

Yaakov and Trump

There is an interesting note in this parshah that reminded me of something from Donald Trump's book, The Art of the Deal, which, yes I have read from cover to cover, and yes it is actually a pretty good book.In the parshah Yakov comes to town and sees the shepherd's hanging around by the well.  [...]

By | November 18th, 2015|

How Did Noah Get Kangaroos on the Ark?

How did Noah get kangaroos for the ark?  If you haven't heard this question you have heard some question like it.  The logic goes as follows:The Bible says that Noah took two of every animal onto the ark.The Ark was in Mesopotamia.The Kangaroos were in Australia.There is no bridge from Mesopotamia to Australia.Ergo the Kangaroos [...]

By | November 6th, 2015|